“Hunger is progressing” in France, notes the president of Restos du Cœur, Patrice Douret. As the association launches its 39th food distribution campaign this Tuesday, it is forced to reduce the number of its beneficiaries due to financial difficulties.
“More and more people are in difficulty due to inflation,” commented Patrice Douret, head of the association founded by comedian Coluche in 1985. The price increase reached 4% in October, according to the latest data from INSEE (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies), those of energy (+ 5.2%) and food (+ 7.8%) remain strong.
Les Restos du Cœur is currently receiving registration requests from potential beneficiaries of food aid for the upcoming campaign. For its launch, the president of Restos du Cœur welcomes partners of the association this morning as well as the Ministers of Solidarity and Agriculture, Aurore Bergé and Marc Fesneau, in a distribution center in Asnières-sur-Seine (Tops -de-Seine).
60% of registered households live on less than 550 euros per month
Regarding registrations, “the trends are not reassuring”. “Between 5 and 10% of people welcomed last winter are refused food aid this year” and “we are observing a significant number of new eligible people,” explains Patrice Douret. Uncertainty hangs over the number of people who will be welcomed this winter. However, the Restos du Cœur must reduce their number because they are no longer able to cope with the influx of requests for help, from a logistical or financial point of view.
The association welcomed 1.3 million people in 2022-2023, compared to 1.1 million during the previous period. In recent months, its budget for food purchases, then redistributed free of charge to beneficiaries, has doubled due to inflation. Single mothers, retirees, employees in low-paying jobs, students: this increase in requests concerns all profiles, in all departments. 60% of the households hosted live on less than 550 euros per month.
Asked this Tuesday morning about franceinfo, Patrice Douret draws a grim observation. “Precariousness is increasing. We have families who make the choice between food and housing, heating and transportation.” He adds that he remains “very attentive to the evolution of precariousness”. “We could never have predicted such a development in a few months. »
For the first time in their history, Restos du Cœur have lowered the income level that qualifies for food aid. Among those who have failed, “there is a lot of resignation, people know that we are not able to welcome everyone,” said Patrice Douret. These people can, however, benefit from the association’s other services, such as clothing donations or job search support. Despite this measure, the Restaurants launched an appeal in September: 35 million euros were missing to end the financial year in balance. “Our call was heard, there was an exceptional outpouring of generosity,” underlines the president.
“Really need to be supported”
The government has granted an additional 10 million euros to Restos, which provide 35% of food aid in France. The family of Bernard Arnault, owner of the world’s number one luxury brand LVMH (which also owns Le Parisien), offered 10 million euros. The rest of the amount comes from donations from businesses and individuals. Is the survival of this emblematic association now assured? “I don’t know,” responds its president cautiously. “We really need to continue to be supported.”
He still wonders about the finances of the structure because 60% of the donations it receives are usually made between November and December. “Will the French still be able to give at the end of the year? Did the donations received in September come from new people or were they donations from our usual supporters who will not necessarily be able to repeat their gesture at the end of the year? » asks Patrice Douret.
To overcome this difficult milestone, the Restos du Cœur are asking the government in particular to put in place a “food emergency plan by increasing the budget dedicated to food aid associations to 200 million euros, compared to around 150 today “.
This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.
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